When you’re overwhelmed and anxious, it’s tough to think clearly. In a moment of distress, it’s difficult to know exactly what to do to calm yourself down, how to cope. A coping skills toolbox is a place to keep a collection of things that will help make you feel better in a time of crisis.
It’s much easier to remember to go find your toolbox than to scrounge for ideas in a panic. Put things in your kit that will reassure you and help take your mind off of what’s bothering you. Here are a few ideas of what you can add.
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A toolbox should contain items that positively stimulate your senses. Include something to touch, like a soft blanket. Add something to listen to. This could be soothing white noise, a mellow but positive album or your favorite audiobook.
Find a place or image that you find particularly pleasing to the eye and include a photo of it. Nature scenes are very relaxing. Something you can taste is another good addition. Throw in a box of soothing tea, chocolates or mints. Scents can also help alter your mood, so a scented candle or a bunch of dried lavender could be just what you need to cool off.
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When your brain is bogged down by something upsetting, try focusing on something else for a while. Include some activities in your toolbox that will engage you in something positive. A puzzle works well, or a novel or adult coloring book. You might even want to include a movie on that you associate with happy memories—perhaps one from your childhood.
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If the coping skills in your toolbox don’t seem to be doing the trick for you, never hesitate to ask for help. To round out your box, add in a list of contact information for people you can depend on — family members, friends, professionals — and don’t be afraid to use it.
Making a toolbox is a great way to prepare yourself for times when you need to refocus and calm down. It can also be a source of happiness on days when you just need a little pick-me-up. Anyone can make their own coping skills toolbox, so get started on yours today and let us know what you decide to include!
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